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Indicted Rep. Fattah Loses Primary

11-term representative becomes first incumbent to lose in 2016 cycle

Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., campaigns at a SEPTA subway stop in west Philadelphia with other local Democrats on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., campaigns at a SEPTA subway stop in west Philadelphia with other local Democrats on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah became the first incumbent of 2016 to lose his seat Tuesday night.

The 11-term member, who was 
indicted on 29 corruption charges
 for racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud, lost his 2nd District primary to 
state Rep. Dwight Evans
.

[Related: Chaka Fattah Charged in 29 Count Indictment]

Evans won 42 percent of the vote to Fattah’s 35 percent in the four-way Democratic primary, with 96 percent of precincts reporting. 
Given the Philadelphia-based seat is safe Democratic turf, Evans is likely to become its next representative. 

After being indicted in July, Fattah maintained his innocence and insisted on running for re-election.

“Most political analysts would feel I’m probably in the driver’s seat,” Fattah told 
Roll Call
 in November. “As you might know, I’ve represented this district for 11 terms, so I have some sense how one might secure a majority of the votes.” 

But Fattah struggled to raise money, ending the first quarter with just $12,000 in the bank, while Evans earned the backing of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf.

In an effort to get out the vote Tuesday, Fattah’s campaign released a robocall that included audio of President Barack Obama praising Fattah at a Congressional Black Caucus event in 2013. The White House objected to use of Obama’s voice. 

Fattah’s loss marks the beginning of a difficult month for him. His federal criminal trial starts on May 16, with jury selection beginning on Monday. 

Fattah was the only incumbent to lose, but he wasn’t the only Keystone State incumbent who had a tumultuous Tuesday. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster, a 9th District Republican, narrowly survived a primary challenge from tea party candidate Art Halvorson, whom he defeated soundly in 2014. 

With 83 percent of precincts reporting, Shuster lead Halvorson 52 percent to 48 percent. Shuster has been dogged by criticisms of a conflict of interest after it was revealed that he’s been in a romantic relationship with a top airline industry lobbyist.


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